Muskellunge picture! Who doesn't want to be seen in a picture holding one of these "monsters". The muskie is the largest member of the Pike family and can grow up to six feet long. The name comes from the Ojibwa word that means "Ugly Pike". I would also add that these fish look "Angry". In fact if you ever land a pike or musky, watch out, they almost seem to be looking at you and would like to swing around and bite your leg. What does a muskellunge eat? Whatever it wants to. They have been known to eat other fish attempting some that are nearly as large as they are, ducks, snakes, attacking/eating fish off your hook and line, and more. Be ready - they are a predator fish - and can surprise even the most seasoned anglers.
Pike or Muskie
The features of the Muskie are very similar to the Pike in terms of body dimensions, mouth, and eyes. However, notice in this muskellunge picture the markings on its side - muskie have dark marks or blotches (sometimes even bars) on a lighter background - in contrast to the pike that has light ovals or circles on a dark background. Other distinguishing characteristics are noted in the table below. The following pictures and table will further clarify these differences.
||Side Marking / Color||Tail Shape||Under Jaw Pores|
|Muskie - Clear||Sides can be nearly clear to faint markings. The side color of Muskie and Pike can vary due to the environment conditions. Often one pattern will dominate a specific body of water but all of these patterns may be present.||Tail or caudal fin has pointed tips.||Under side of jaw on both sides has 6-9 visible pores|
|Muskie - Spotted||Sides have distinct dark markings on a lighter background of the fish. These are often irregular shapes similar to but not distinct geometric shapes.||Tail or caudal fin has pointed tips.||Under side of jaw on both sides has 6-9 visible pores|
||Side markings are vertical bars or stripes that are darker on a lighter background. These can be solid or broken.||Tail or caudal fin has pointed tips||Under side of jaw on both sides has 6-9 visible pores on each side|
||A cross between Pike and Muskie, the side patterns resemble the barred or striped muskie but alternating with spots then stripes on a lighter background like Muskie||Tail or caudal fins have rounded tips like Pike.||5-8 pores on the under side of each of their jaws.|
|Northern Pike||Can be faint, round to oval - white to light colored spots on a darker green to greenish brown background||Tail Fin (Caudal Fin) pointed on tips||Five or fewer pores visible on underside of each lower jaw.|
We asked a friend of PFT to put down in writing a story about a close encounter he had and asked if we could publish it. Unfortunately, he was not able to get a muskellunge picture. Here is his story:
On a warm and sunny summer day in 2005 we were fishing a rocky out cropping just south of a small island off the northern shore of Swell bay on Rainy Lake. This outcropping was just at the surface of the lake with a flat of about 20 feet before dropping off into 80 plus feet in the main channel of swell bay. Shown in the gps picture below with the W & NP letters, we were using the electric trolling motor making passes east to west on the south side of these rocks. Nearly every cast, each of the three anglers, myself, my son-in-law, and our good friend an anglican pastor - so you know this is a true story - caught nice walleyes. All were 17 inches and above. So we could keep fishing we were were not keeping our limits yet that day.
We had a nice wind from the SW causing a chop of 15-20 inches. I was in the front of my Lund Pro V running the trolling motor to keep us away from the rocks. I had just made a cast to the edge of the rocks using my Shimano Spirex 4000 on a BPS Bionic Blade two piece MH 7 foot rod. I was using a Chartreuse Bomber crank bait and hooked onto another nice walleye. All of a sudden my retrieve came to a stop - it was as if I got a snag. However, I could tell it was not a snag because there was movement at the end of the line and then my line started stripping. Oddly, though as I tightened the drag just a bit, whatever was there did not seem to simply take off for deeper water. I began to reel the catch in towards the boat. I was still using the trolling motor so as to keep from being blown into the rocks.
By this time my line and catch was well behind the boat as the trolling motor had moved us well west of the rocks. As a result we were in open water. It was safe to turn off the trolling motor and I stood up to pay attention to what I was doing. All of a sudden Patrick, who was leaning on my 200 HP Mercury Optimax motor, let out a whoop and a hollar, You have a "Huge Fish!" That got the attention of all of us. Patrick saw it first, then Kevin. Then, as I reeled it slowly inward I too was able to see the fish. It was a big muskie and it had "T-Boned" my walleye carrying it sideways in its mouth. Only about 3-4 inches of the walleye could be seen on either side of its mouth.
Would have, could have, should have, but didn't. No body had the common sense enough to pull out a camera, which we all had, and snap a picture. Nor did we have a net big enough even to attempt to get this one; In all the excitement I did not let the fish swallow the walleye which could have put the hook into the muskie. However, the video image of this incident has been frozen in our minds and we have a great time discussing this one every time we talk to one another. This big muskie seemed to be saying, "Who has the audacity to try to take my walleye?" and wanted to see whatever it was that was attempting this theft. That muskie never appeared to think it was not in control and just wanted to see up close this thing that was trying to steal its walleye. When we attempted to get our tiny net into the water the giant muskellunge had enough, it simply let go and slowly took a right turn and disappeared into the water. Will this be my only chance at a Muskellunge Picture?
I brought the walleye (what was left of the walleye) into the boat as the hook was still caught in its mouth. This walleye measured 20 inches! Its head and tail were in tact but the rest of its body had been shredded by the muskellunge. The three of us stood there another 10-15 minutes retelling what we saw, what had just happened, and then turned to guessing just how big it was. Then we asked each other if anyone got the muskellunge picture? It had to be at least 60 inches long with a head that had to have been 14 inches across. Looking for something to compare it to we all agreed that this fish would have filled up the width of the inside of my boat - nearly 72 inches. Well that is what we all agreed to. Guess you should have been there!
We did not get an actual muskellunge picture, however that image is permanently imprinted in our minds!